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I graduated from University back in 2014.
I remember the utter panic I felt in the months approaching and following that graduation day because for the first time in my life I didn’t have a plan anymore. That realisation that everything you’ve worked so hard for – acing GCSE’s, getting top A-Level marks, and working your ass off (with a healthy dose of partying) at University to graduate with a great degree – you’ve done it.
And then what?
Now that I blog about personal finance, I can see how this subject can entirely transform a student’s university experience. While I regret nothing about University, hindsight is a bitch and I often find myself thinking if only I had started doing this when I was a student. Some advice, financially and otherwise, just isn’t given to students and it should be. I’m just one person – but if I can look back just 3 years on and highlight some areas I wish I had been educated about, I know others will, too.
Here a some great ways to start saving money as a student.
Recommended post: How to Save Money in College?
1. Get A PART-TIME JOB
At university, I had a job back in my home town that I would return to in the holidays but looking back, perhaps it wasn’t enough. When you leave University, you’re smacked with the realisation that thousands of other people have a degree and while that’s great, those three years you spent working your ass off don’t make you special.
Many students are left feeling depressed, trapped, and like they wasted three years of their life after graduating and realising they’re now in tens of thousands of debt only to qualify for an entry-level low-paying position. My one piece of advice would be to prepare yourself for the workforce now.
Start interning in the industry you want to go into. Volunteer or participate in activities in your Student Union. Build a startup or start blogging – anything you can do to build up some real-world experience that gives you a massive head start when you graduate.
A few post that should give you some good ideas:
– 60 Side Hustle Ideas to Start Earning Money from Home
– 15 Jobs Best For Teens
– 10 Very Best Remote Jobs For Beginners
2. Learn How To Cook (Properly)
Many students end up spending an absolute fortune on takeaways and ready meals because they never really learned how to cook. Just a little bit of research and a willingness to learn could not only help you save literally hundreds on your food bills every year, but would also completely transform your eating-experience while at uni!
Have a look at my guide to budget meal prep for some ideas on getting started as well as a number of meal plan examples and grocery list ideas.
3. Stop Drinking So Much
No, really. Yaz, do you really need an entire bottle of wine for pre-drinks, and then another £20 – £30 to spend on drinks once you’ve actually left the house? UK binge drinking at University is hard-core, and something that leaves you drained financially and physically. If there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind, no, you absolutely do not need that much alcohol.
I drank a lot at university. So did all of my friends. I had a high tolerance and while yes, I’d be drunk by the end of a night out clubbing, I was rarely drinking so far beyond my limit that my immediate health was at risk. Despite that, over three years I can’t even imagine how much money went down the drain (quite literally) due to buying too much alcohol.
Once I discovered a passion for fitness in my third year, my alcohol consumption rapidly dropped – coincidentally, this was also around the time I decided to get my life in gear and get a part-time job while I was studying – not just in the holidays. To my student self and to any students reading this right now: stop drinking so much. You’ll have as much fun tipsy or sober, and if you don’t, perhaps you should reconsider why the world needs to be blurry before you can have fun at clubs.
4. pUT mONEY INTO YOUR SAVINGS (IF YOU CAN)
Related to the above point: start saving now. Tuition and maintenance loans cover a lot of your fees at University, but in many people’s cases (mine included), I needed my parent’s help financially to even stand a chance of surviving at University.
One of the best things you can do for yourself as a student is to start earning an income while you’re still studying and save as much of that money as you can by budgeting correctly. Take a look at this huge list of 60 ways you can make money online for a few ideas beyond your standard retail/bar job. Having a buffer to fall-back on in those first few months of uncertainty after graduation can make all the difference between having the freedom to search and apply for jobs you really want, and taking the first thing that comes your way.
However, you are of course studying for a reason: to get a degree. While my financial advice to my student self would be to start working harder and saving more, that’s advice is second to having enough time to study, relax and manage life as a student. Work hard wherever possible, but don’t work to the point of burn-out, either.
5. Take Advantage of the Discounts
If you haven’t taken advantage of every single discount, freebie and offer available to you as a student, you’re playing the game wrong. Use cashback sites, download student-specific money-saving apps on your phone, and do you research on student discounts available to you and save money as a student by taking the things readily available to you.
Get every single student discount card (UNIdays, NUS etc) you can get your hands on and use it whenever possible. I still wince when people ask me nowadays if I’m a student and I have to shake my head at that glorious discount on offer.
6. Find Your Passions
Is ‘find your passions’ really financial advice, I hear you ask. Well, yes. Our hobbies and passions shape us as people, defining what we count amongst our highest priorities in life.
I didn’t discover my love of fitness, the outdoors and climbing until my third year of University, but it has entirely changed me as a person. Now, I have a clear, defined vision of what I want from life and what I need to get it. It’s what made me create this site: to get the message across to people that money is important, but what’s more important is being able to manage your finances correctly to be able to have the lifestyle you want.
Find what makes you happy by getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things. Knowing what you want from life is the best way to understanding what you need to do in order to get there.
- Can House Sharing Really Save You Money?
- 10 Financial Habits Best Started Early
- 15 Budget Hacks to Save Up to £9,500 This Year
What financial advice would you give to your younger self? Are there any other greay ways to save money as a student that you would recommend? Would you change the way you did things?
Dave @ Married with Money says
Finding your passion is a big one for me. I think too few people are just ‘going through the motions’ of living, without taking the time to think about building a LIFE.
I think overall as far as financial advice itself goes…I used to have a highly successful video-game related web site. I think I could have monetized it pretty successfully and incredibly easily…but I didn’t. I didn’t want to put in the time and effort; I thought that it was the right thing to continue to focus on college. Video games were just a thing to do for fun, not anything to make a career from – not for me anyway. But looking back, I’d have been able to make very good money and if I’d saved it, I’d be in a much different position than I am now.
The Wallet Moth says
Thanks for commenting, Dave. I completely agree with you about building a life – what’s the point in worrying about money if it’s not serving your lifestyle?
Hindsight can be bittersweet sometimes- you made the right choice for you then, focusing on college, but it can be hard to look back and see missed opportunities – a lesson for next time, perhaps!